Firebase Pros and Cons – Detailed Analysis
This article will explore Firebase’s pros and cons. It will detail benefits like accelerating app development and removing the infrastructure hassles of managing an app. It will also explain limitations like vendor lock-in and running only on the Google Cloud Platform.
Firebase, a Google product, is extremely popular amongst app developers across the globe as it provides them with a robust and feature-rich mobile app development platform.
App developers can use this platform to create highly sophisticated and versatile Android, iOS, and web applications.
The Google Firebase, a back-end platform for mobile application development, helps the developers to develop apps faster, release them in the market, track their performance, and engage with the users.
This reliable platform with numerous tools allows developers to create and scale apps according to demand.
Firebase provides access to all those services, which the developers have to otherwise create themselves for developing apps.
Access to all the services allows the developers to focus more on creating a highly engaging user experience.
The services of Google Firebase are cloud-based, allowing developers to scale up the app when such a demand rises quickly.
This article will comprehensively summarize the Firebase app development platform by analyzing pros and cons of this robust BaaS (Backend as a Service).
Here is a list of app developers’ benefits if they use Firebase to develop a web or mobile app.
It Has a Free Plan
One of the biggest pros of Firebase is that it allows you to use its free plan (the Spark plan) to start developing an app by logging into the platform using your Google account.
The Spark plan offers numerous features developers can use to create a highly functional app. However, the developers can also opt for the paid Blaze plan if they want premium features to make even more sophisticated apps. In the Blaze plan, you can access all the premium features needed to create an app of any complexity.
Starting the app development process without paying a single dollar has made Firebase popular in the app developer community.
Furthermore, if you want to upgrade to the Blaze Firebase plan, you only have to pay for the extra service or storage you use, which is above the original free limits.
Firebase Offers Faster App Development Speed
The Firebase platform can help the developer to accelerate the app development process significantly, which allows them to market their mobile apps faster.
While developing an app, the developers need a highly secure server, a database, back-end service, and maintenance. Therefore, you require both a front-end and back-end developer to create an app.
However, when two developers work simultaneously on a project from two different ends, it can lead to errors. These errors can make the app development process complex and costly.
If you use Firebase to create an app, the front-end developer can quickly develop the app. The front-end developer can manage the development of the app on their own because Firebase manages the back-end process that includes data storage, notifications, analytics, authentication, and others.
Firebase also allows developers to access its numerous ready-to-use services that prevent them from writing boilerplate code and forcing them to start their app’s back-end coding from the beginning.
The high-quality SDKs, big online community, and detailed documentation in Firebase make it easier for the front-end developers to integrate Firebase into their Codebase.
It Offers an End-to-End App Development Service
Firebase also offers developers a range of products to make the app development project process smoother and faster.
One of these products is the database options which includes Firestore and Firestore’s Realtime Database.
Firebase allows the developers a serverless application development environment and cloud media storage through its integrated Cloud functions.
When you use Firebase, you get comprehensive support for the entire application development cycle, including building, releasing, and monitoring the mobile app.
Furthermore, it provides access to those tools that help developers effectively engage the app’s users and persuade them to keep using it.
Google Supports Firebase
One of the biggest pros of Firebase is the full backing of the world’s most trusted technology company, Google.
Since Google acquired Firebase, it has undergone numerous updates that have improved its features, security, and stability.
Furthermore, Firebase also accesses the stupendous potential of Google Cloud and multiple Google services to offer the developers a complete end-to-end mobile app development solution.
Firebase also allows app developers to integrate many third-party services to provide their app users with a fantastic experience.
Firebase Allows Developers to Focus on Front-End Development
The popularity of Firebase amongst developers is due to its comprehensive back-end support that allows developers to focus their attention on creating the front-end code of mobile apps for a great user experience.
Firebase ensures that you do not have to develop boilerplate back-end code, which could otherwise have delayed the app development process. This feature makes app development convenient and helps keep the cost of developing an app low.
Furthermore, companies prefer app developers to use Firebase as it allows them to standardize the back-end environment of their apps and make use of an easy-to-learn technology. This standardization helps reduce the training needed to maintain and support it.
A Developer Using Firebase Does Not Require a Server
If the requirement arises and you have to scale up or down the server that supports your app, you will find the entire process quite challenging, especially if you have to increase the database cluster to optimize the app’s performance.
To perform this task optimally, you will need the services of experienced engineers. However, if you use Firebase, you can create and manage your app in an entirely serverless environment.
In the serverless architecture of Firebase, you have to pay as per your needs. You do not have to worry about scaling up and down the server infrastructure, as Firebase does it for you.
Another benefit of using a serverless platform is that you have to pay only when you utilize this platform, which ensures lower costs and is more efficient than conventional servers. It gives developers more control over DevOps, infrastructure, setup, and capacity planning.
Comes Integrated with Machine Learning Capabilities
Information technology is experiencing a revolution due to the increased use of machine learning. Firebase, which offers machine learning support, can be relied upon by app developers to create highly sophisticated Android and iOS apps even with limited experience.
Firebase provides machine learning with APIs of various mobile platforms, and it offers exciting features like face detection, text identification, image labeling, barcode scanning, and many more.
It Generates Traffic to Your App
Firebase provides excellent help in app indexing, which allows you to reengage with Google search users by giving them your app links on search.
Any help in indexing your application can increase the ranking of your app, which will provide it with more exposure, thus attracting new users and traffic to your app. The app developers can depend on the Android Instant App to easily access app content.
Firebase Allows Monitoring of Crashes
The Crashlytics feature of Firebase is handy for app developers to maintain the app, find any issue affecting the stability, and fix it quickly.
Firebase allows developers to monitor both fatal and non-fatal errors. Also, it provides comprehensive crash reports showing how errors negatively impact the users’ experience.
It Offers a Robust Security
Firebase also does regular backups, which improves the security of your app’s data. The highly secure environment of firebase servers ensures that your data remains protected by automatically backing up your data at regular intervals.
If you are a user of the Blaze plan, you can configure the Realtime database so that the platform takes automatic backups.
These are some of the cons that are associated with using Firebase for mobile app development.
Firebase is not Open-Source
Firebase is not an open-source platform for mobile application development. Firebase’s closed-source architecture restricts the app developers’ control of this platform.
As developers cannot make any change to Firebase source code, they find it a suboptimal solution for their app development needs.
Although it is true that this platform is not open source, app developers can use many SDKs and libraries that are available on GitHub, which gives a workaround for this challenge.
However, this limitation is quite stark as it restricts the online Firebase community from improving its functionality by changing its flexibility levels and self-hosting options for those developers who find Firebase pricing too steep.
Firebase has Vendor Lock-In
The second most significant limitation we are stating here regarding the Firebase platform is its vendor lock-in feature.
Not having complete control over the platform’s source code stops many developers from using this platform for their app development process.
Firebase Does Not Work in Many Countries
Firebase is a product of Google, and its official website is https://firebase.google.com. Many countries, like China, have blocked Google and all its associated services.
Such a restriction makes it impossible for app developers in those countries where Google does not have any access to develop new apps using Firebase.
Only NoSQL Databases Are Available in Firebase
The Firebase database options, Firestore and Firebase Real-time Database, offer only a NoSQL structure. Furthermore, you cannot use a relational database when using Firebase to develop your app.
Although Firebase has made several changes to its cloud Firestore, running highly complex queries may still be challenging for many developers.
Firebase Real-time Database handles its ACID properties in a roundabout way, which complicates the system. Although Firebase supports the transactions, the developers must execute their code using Firebase Real-time Database, unlike traditional relational databases.
In addition to the complexity of its database, Firebase also has an issue with data migration. Unlike a simple SQL database, data migration in Firebase may be more complex and slower.
One of the reasons could be that Firebase uses JSON and does not have SQL features, making migrating from the database more complex.
Slow Queries in Firebase
The cloud Firestore offers innumerable advantages that include easy scaling up your app and allowing offline query support and real-time updates, but it also has its limitations. Some of these include the following:
- Limited query flexibility.
- Write frequency is limited to only one per second.
- Queries slow down the database performance.
- No native aggregation query feature.
- It offers 1MiB document size limit.
- The maximum API request size is 10 MiB.
- Concurrent connections maximum allowed 1M.
Only the Basic Services are free in Firebase
Firebase, under its Spark plan, offers several features to create an app for free, but there are a few premium features that you cannot access if you are on this plan.
These premium features include machine learning and Cloud functions. You must buy their premium subscription-based Blaze plan to access these features.
Although there is a free quote for cloud functions, if you are under the Blaze plan, the moment you cross the free limit, you have to pay charges.
Firebase Is Expensive, and the Pricing Is Difficult to Forecast
Firebase is a robust and feature-rich mobile application development platform, but it is also pricey. The platform does offer you a free plan, but it lacks a few premium features, which would make app development on this platform easy and fast. Many will find self-hosting an app more price competitive than using Firebase.
If you plan to use Firebase to develop your mobile app, you must first compare the upfront cost of creating a cluster at an IaaS and maintaining the servers against using Firebase as a hosting solution.
Another reason why Firebase is expensive is due to the proprietary technology that requires a return on investment.
On the other hand, open-sourced technologies can leverage community-based development to provide cheaper options.
As Firebase offers its services in a usage-based model, it is difficult to cap the price. For some users, estimating their costs on Firebase can be challenging, mainly when they cannot forecast their scalability requirements.
The best way to manage your spending on Firebase is to use its features optimally, like deciding whether you want Firebase Real-time Database or Firestore.
You can use Firestore to manage big data sets or when you need complex querying, and for small and high throughput data, you can use the Firebase Real-time Database.
One of the advantages of Firebase is that it will charge you exactly for the resources you have used, compared to some other platforms where you cannot analyze the pricing at a granular level.
Therefore, carefully study the billing model of Firebase and regularly check your cost to avoid any nasty high billing surprises at the month-end.
If you are looking for a simple to understand and more predictable pricing structure, please check the backend as a service provider, Back4app. It offers a generous free tier, easy-to-understand pricing, and dedicated hosting.
Firebase Runs only on Google Cloud
As Firebase is a subdomain of Google, its infrastructure uses Google Cloud. If you use Firebase, you cannot run it on other cloud providers like Azure, AWS, or Digital Ocean.
Firebase severely curtails your flexibility in choosing a hosting option that you find offers a more cost-effective solution.
Furthermore, Firebase does not provide any server-level access, and if you need to customize the server setting, it can create a considerable challenge.
No Provision for Dedicated Servers or Enterprise Support in Firebase
If you use Firebase, you do not get the option of using either enterprise contracts or dedicated servers. For many users, the unavailability of dedicated server options poses a big limitation.
You can use Firebase over a serverless structure. This type of architecture provides less flexibility than a fully dedicated cluster structure.
Additionally, sharing resources in such a setting may not be the optimal solution for many users looking for the best performance.
Firebase Does not Provide GraphQL APIs
The default option of Firebase is REST. The GraphQL APIs is not provided as the default setup of Firebase. Although you can find a workaround for implementing GraphQL with Firebase, it is still a big hassle.
In this article, you have learned about Firebase, a popular mobile app development platform, and its various advantages and disadvantages.
Firebase, the app development platform, is supported by Google. Among its many benefits, you will find its ability to help the developer quickly create an app and provide an end-to-end development environment and scalable infrastructure noteworthy.
Although Firebase is an excellent mobile app development platform, it has limitations, including vendor lock-in, a closed source platform, and only NoSQL databases.
We hope the information in this article will help you make an accurate cost-benefit analysis of this wonderful platform and decide whether it is perfect for your mobile application development needs.